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Defying the Odds, Moving Forward

As a child in my grandmother's house, I never realized that my family was poor. To my childish mind, the steady diet of ground provisions from the local market--yam, bananas, breadfruit, ackee, and calaloo--simply meant that grandmother was set in her old ways; not that the brightly packaged consumables on the supermarket shelves were too far beyond the family budget. The fact that I was sent to live with father's mother meant that my own mother saw it necessary that I spend more time getting to know my father; not that she, a twenty-seven year old with three pre-teens could not afford to keep all her children.

The concepts of poverty, class, social exclusion, and race did not begin to take shape in my mind until I entered high school in the late 1980s. By then, I had long departed the insular world of my grandmother's home and had resumed living with my mother who could now afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment to accommodate the four of us.

As a student at a prominent all-girls school in Kingston, I became acutely aware of Jamaica's social strata--an inherently divisive construct which relegated poor families like the one I came from to the bottom. I soon assimilated into the school culture which, inspite of its best attempts to inculcate a unifying sense of identity amongst us girls, reflected the values of the wider society. I somehow accepted that I could never acquire the unfamiliar swagger that the lighter-skinned girls from uptown walked around with. I sub-consciously acquiesced to the conditioning that my peers, who came from mainly two-parent households and seemed to play all the sports I'd only just heard about since first form,would go on to law school, medical school, or some other prescribed pathway; while I would need to find a job.

Years later, I entered college on the savings I'd accumulated from my first job at the age of sixteen. During my college years in the United States, I discovered new concepts, like, feminism and Civil Rights which helped me clarify the rousing internal discontent I'd felt throughout much of my youth. Reading Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Richard Wright, W.E.B Dubois, and many others made me stand taller as a young woman navigating my way through New York City, and later Europe and Asia.

As a professional woman now in my mid-thirties, I have travelled a long way from the defiant little girl in my grandmother's household. Yet,despite the knowledge and experience I have acquired, I have encountered the gamut of discrimination both personally and professionally. Now, however, I choose to respond differently.

I can no longer ignore the overwhelming impulse in my heart to act. I believe it's time to use the knowledge I've gained, the strength of my voice, and the skills I've developed to inspire younger girls to believe in themselves and to know that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to, regardless of their economic backgrounds, gender, colour, class, or any difficulties they've experienced in their lives.

I am encouraged by the World Pulse community because I see that there is an army of other women like me. Some are further along in their activism, others, like me, are just beginning to rise up and need the support, the training, and the platform to move forward.

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Deqa's picture

Amazing Post

My Dear this is a powerful post and I can feel your enthusiasm through your writing. You have definitely proved that despite the circumstances one can conquer the world with motivation, commitment and determination.
You are an inspiration to many young ladies including me. Keep it up my dear

Love
Deqa

IamTruth's picture

Much appreciated

Dear Deqa:

Thank you for reading and commenting on my post. I am encouraged by your kind words.

Love,

IamTruth

Klaudia Mexico's picture

those impulsive desires

Dear friends
I congratulate you to achieve your academic and professional endeavors, but overall your impulsive disires to break those poverty cycles. We women are meant to protect young girls to achieve their dreams just the way we've done.
cheers from beatiful Mexico
Klauda

Klaudia González

IamTruth's picture

Becoming who we were meant to be

Hi Klaudia:

It is in fighting for what we want that we become who we were meant to be. As always, I appreciate your kindness.

Sincerely

Al

Katharina's picture

Wow!

As Deqa wrote earlier, I can really feel the power and the drive in your post. This is most impressive and actually really inspiring. I can very well imagine how you can motivate the girls and young women in your community to follow your path and become such a passionate and strong woman like you are themselves. I really, really enjoyed reading your post, because I somehow had the feeling that I was seeing the world through your eyes, how your perceived things when you were a small kid and how your perceptions changed over time. I'm looking forward to reading more from you!

IamTruth's picture

Believing...

Dear Katharina:

Your words have motivated me to believe in my own abilities. Though I've always secretly harbored the desire to become a writer, I've never truly believed in my own abilities sufficiently to seriously consider writing. With kind and encouraging words such as yours, I now believe that my writing has the potential to inspire and uplift others and I feel more motivated now to write. I thank you very much.

Blessings,

IamTruth

Dana Anderson's picture

Leadership

Dear IamTruth,

This is a truly excellent piece because it shows that we each have our own unique obstacles to overcome before stepping into our roles as activists. The confidence in your writing suggests that you are more than capable of being an incredible leader and source of inspiration for the young girls you care so much about. The personal elements of your piece gave it a true voice, and yet you manage to eloquently present universal issues of "poverty, class, social exclusion and race."

I really enjoyed reading your story and look forward to hearing more from you!

Best,
Dana

IamTruth's picture

Adversity is the refiner's fire

Dear Dana:

I thank you for reading and commenting on my post. The saying goes, "Adversity is the refiner’s fire that bends iron but tempers steel." With this in mind, I wholeheartedly agree that it is in facing and, ultimately, overcoming our obstacles that we are molded into our roles as leaders, activists, teachers... and so on.

I am so very grateful for this space which motivates me to write.

Much Love,

IamTruth

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